What Happens After Quitting Smoking?

Kick the Habit: The Amazing Benefits of Quitting Smoking, From 24 Hours to the Long-term

A nationwide survey (2023) from the Department of Health and Social Care found that 95% of ex-smokers noticed positive changes in their health after just 2 weeks of quitting smoking.

  • More energy (45%)
  • Feeling healthier (42%)
  • Breathing better (42%)
  • Ability to exercise (22%)
  • Healthier looking skin (24%)
  • Returned sense of taste (25%)
  • Saving money (34%)

Data from more than 3,000 ex-smokers

Neil Obrien
Neil O’Brien

Health Minister, Neil O’Brien said: “Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable illness and death. When people quit smoking, the benefits are huge – they are healthier, wealthier and pressure on the NHS eases.”

Korean researchers studied more than 2.9 million people and found that people who quit cigarette smoking had a 17% lower risk of all types of cancer, including lung, stomach, liver, kidney, colorectal, pancreas, bladder and throat, compared to those who continued smoking.

Many withdrawal symptoms after quitting smoking may include, restlessness, irritability, frustration, tiredness, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, increased appetite, weight gain, anxiety and cravings. You may also have a chesty cough as the body clears out the smoke and debris from the lungs. Withdrawal symptoms typically go away after 2-4 weeks.

Days After Quitting Smoking

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Heart rate and blood pressure will lower

Blood oxygen levels will return to normal, reaching the heart and muscles more easily. Carbon monoxide in the blood will be reduced by half – gone on day 2

Sense of taste and smell will improve

Weeks After

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Higher levels of protective antioxidants in your blood, e.g. Vitamin C. Nerve endings damaged by smoking will start to regrow, thus increasing senses

Circulation will start to improve

Complexion may improve and wrinkles may be reduced. Breathing may improve, with less coughing

Quitting smoking has been associated with improved mental health, including a more positive mood and reduced stress and anxiety

Within the First Year

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Lung function can increase by up to 10%, less likely to be coughing up phelgm

Risk of heart attack will reduce in half

Long Term

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After quitting smoking, a women’s risk of cervical cancer will be the same as someone who has never smoked

Risk of lung cancer goes down to half

The risk of heart attack and stroke will be equal to someone who has never smoked

Additional Benefits

  • Exercising will become easier
  • Less hassle with having to make sure you have enough cigarettes
  • You’ll smell better with the reduction of cigarette smoke
  • Fertility levels will improve
  • You can save up to thousands of pounds a year
  • You’ll improve the health of close family and friends as they are reduced to second-hand smoking
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Tips to Quitting

  • Take a break if you’re feeling irritable
  • Have a drink of water or juice
  • Get outside, fresh air and exercise is a great distraction
  • Keep yourself busy, try a new hobby or get tasks ticked off your to-do list
  • Focus on the benefits of quitting smoking!

Recommended nicotine alternatives to assist you with the adjustment of quitting smoking include, E-cigarettes, disposable vapes and nicotine pouches.

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that give you the sensation of smoking by providing a similar hand-to-mouth motion, inhaling and exhaling and even producing a throat hit, but without the harmful toxins present in tobacco smoke. They typically consist of a mouthpiece, battery and pod or tank containing E-liquid. The E-liquids typically contain flavouring, additives and nicotine and are considerably less harmful than traditional cigarettes. These devices and liquids are regulated as consumer products in the UK, with evidence suggesting that they are the most effective solution to quitting smoking.

Nicotine pouches are a form of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) which can be purchased from a pharmacy, some shops or obtained a prescription from your GP. They are smoke-free and don’t involve inhaling any harmful substances into the lungs, which can reduce the risk of respiratory problems. Nicotine pouches offer a discreet and convenient way of getting nicotine cravings as they’re small and odourless, making them a great alternative for situations where vaping is impractical or frowned upon, such as in public spaces, social events or professional settings. They come in varying strengths and flavours and over time, you can opt to lower your nicotine strength and work towards quitting altogether.

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